Saturday, December 24, 2016

• Local Family Displaced By Fire

Santa makes a Christmas Eve stop at the VFW to bring some good will and tidings (plus a load of presents) to a family that recently lost their home.

You may have read about this house fire in Wildomar, displacing a large family, back on December 16th. 

Though crews were able to contain the fire by 2:30 p.m. a subsequent call was necessary when smoke was reported to be coming from the attic later that evening.

If the house wasn't a total loss initially, it was after the second call. In addition to what the flames were able to do, the rains have since exacerbated the situation. 

I had a chance to chat with Cheryl and Bruce Durbin, the parents of the five children (four being adopted from infancy), they told me that the house was a 100% loss.

"The fire consumed the kitchen primarily, but the fire went all the way up the walls, into the attic. There are no rafters left, there's hardly any flooring left, it's going to be a near total tear down from inside." —Bruce Durbin

They spoke to the adjusters yesterday and were told that none of the walls are any good, and the framing has to be replaced. The estimated time to rebuild it is between 12 and 18 months.

I asked if they were going to be able to stay in town during the rebuild, and I was told that they are currently in a hotel. They are anticipating a challenge when finding a home to accommodate their family of seven.

In the fire they lost several pets; three dogs, a cat and a potbelly pig. Bruce was telling me that, "even with [only] two dogs, it's very difficult to [find a place to] rent." 
From left to right, Cheryl Durbin, Isiah 8, two fire fighters, Shakinah 6, in Santa's arms - Judah 5,  firefighter number 3, Joshua 7, Elijah 12 and Bruce Durbin on the right.

To add to the difficulties of losing a home, they already had family coming in from out of the country for Christmas. Bruce's brother is a missionary in China, and this was going to be his family's first Christmas in the States in nearly 10 years.

Caring Hearts, a local non profit that has its roots in the VFW, jumped into action to help the family. 

They provided a safe comfortable place for the extended family to have Christmas dinner, and also arranged for Santa Claus to stop by... delivery courtesy of the Wildomar Fire Department.

The traditional Christmas dinner fed nine kids and five adults. 
A shot of the extended family and Santa Claus and Santa Elf.

Bruce told me that they have a small RV and thought they'd be able to use it for accommodations for the traveling family, but the fire destroyed all the keys that were in the home, and the RV is at the dealership waiting for a key to arrive from the east coast.

I asked how they chose Wildomar as their home.
"We visit a lot of towns; we visit the parks before we look at the houses. When we go to a city park, or a restaurant that the community goes to a lot, you get a big feeling for how the rest of the community probably is." 

"We went to the McDonald's, we were sitting there and we said "Hi" to the firemen that happened to be there, and they said "Hi" to the kids. We're used to people looking at us because the range of children we have." 

"Out of nowhere the firemen showed up with stickers, hats and plastic helmets, and we thought, 'if that's not a sign of some kind, that this is a welcoming community, then I don't know what would be.'"

Cheryl added, "While we were at the McDonald's, three separate families came up to us and said what a beautiful family we had. For us, that clinched it."

While I had them there I thought I'd ask about how their family grew to five kids through adoption. 

Bruce was telling me that their eldest child, Elijah, was so into his new brother (Isiah) that he'd help hold the bottle for him, carrying him, pushing him in a stroller. 

Then added, "I said, 'well obviously we're going to have to have more.'"

Which elicited a chuckle from me.

While telling me about Joshua, that he was a preemie (2 months early), only 3 pounds and about 14 inches, and how the doctors warned them about possible severe complications later on, and that they had to resuscitate him multiple times, and that "he might not make it out of the hospital," you could hear the emotion in Bruce's voice, though Joshua is okay today.

The Durbins are a delightful family that is facing difficulties. If you're so moved to contribute to their GoFundMe page, the link is below.
Below is a video where the Durbin family can be seen at a city parks event. Skip to about 2:25 to see a few pics that they appeared in during the montage... or watch the whole thing because it's pretty cool. ☺

•          •          •

“A friend is someone who knows all about you and still loves you.” 
― Elbert Hubbard, 1856-1915

Wildomar Rap is a blog that knows all about you and still loves you. ☺

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